Theodore Roosevelt Statue in Minot

A large bronze statue titled “Rough Rider” stands at Roosevelt Park in Minot, and depicts Theodore Roosevelt as a Cavalry Colonel in the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt is in full military uniform with a cartridge belt around his waist and sword at his side.  He appears to be reining in his spirited mount.

Roosevelt Minot

The statue was commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt’s long-time friend Dr. Henry Waldo Coe after Roosevelt’s death in 1919. Sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor designed the sculpture to reflect the qualities of courage, fearlessness and controlled energy that Coe had always admired in Roosevelt.

The two men met in the early days of Dakota Territory, where Coe was practicing medicine and Roosevelt was ranching. Coe had arrived in Mandan, Dakota Territory, in 1880 after graduating from Long Island College Hospital in New York. He worked as a surgeon for the Northern Pacific Railroad, providing medical care to construction crews. He almost immediately entered into civic service. He was named City Clerk and was one of the members of the first Mandan School Board. In 1884, he was elected mayor of Mandan and also a member of the last territorial legislature (before the territory was divided) representing 13 counties west of the Missouri River.

In 1884, Theodore Roosevelt was the deputy sheriff of Morton County. At that time, Morton County extended all the way to the Montana border and TR regularly traveled to the county seat in Mandan on business. Coe left Dakota in 1890 to settle in Portland, Oregon, but he remained a close friend and confidante of Theodore Roosevelt until the latter’s death in 1919.

Coe had a special affinity for bronze statues, and commissioned several for the city of Portland during the 1920s. One of them was a large-scale “Rough Rider” which he donated to the city in 1920. In all, he had three such statues made: the second is a smaller scale model of the original that was cast in 1922 and donated to the City of Mandan in 1924; the third is an exact replica of the Mandan statue that was cast in 1923 and donated to the City of Minot in 1924.

Although Coe paid the entire cost of $40,000 for the statue, he left the raising of an additional $1,500 for the pedestal up to the City of Minot. Among those rallying behind the cause were the city’s children. In all, 3,166 children donated their coins to raise the money necessary, and their names were written in a book that was sealed in a copper and brass box inside the statue’s base. At the dedication ceremony, Grand Forks attorney Tracy Bangs said, “Children have more need of models than of critics and on an event such as the dedication of the Roosevelt statue whereby there is called to the minds of the children of the country the success of this man, brought about not by overmastering brilliancy, but by rugged, honest, untiring energy and faithful adherence to right and justice, this will do more for the children who come within its influence than a library full of critical writings of many folios of dismal sermons.”

In 1969, flood waters engulfed Minot in what was called “the mother of all floods.” The “Rough Rider” statue was moved to higher ground in 1970, although it still remains in the park. When the box inside the pedestal was opened, the book containing the names of the children was retrieved but the flood waters had rendered it illegible.

The most recent addition to the “Rough Rider” collection is a statue that stands in Theodore Roosevelt’s home town of Oyster Bay, New York. This statue was created in 2005 using a mold made from the original plaster casts. The fourth “Rough Rider” now stands at the entrance to Oyster Bay.

What You Will See

Roosevelt Park is the largest park in Minot. With the Souris River running through it, abundant mature shade trees and many amenities, it is a lovely place to enjoy the day. The park offers hiking and biking trails, a swimming pool and water slide, tennis courts, a skate park, picnic shelters and a band shell. The independently run Roosevelt Park Zoo is located in the park as is the Magic City Express, a 2/5-scale passenger train that runs along the south side of the park.

How to Get There

From East Burdick Expressway/US Highway 2 Business, follow the signs to Roosevelt Park Zoo. From the zoo parking lot, follow the walking path to the statue.

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